Read Matthew 18 -- 20
Peter asked a far more important question than he realized when he said to Jesus: Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? And Jesus said . . . I say not . . . Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22).
Peter thought he was being generous in choosing seven. This was twice as many times as allowed by the traditions of the Scribes, plus one more, for a total of seven times. For us to fail to forgive everyone of their sins against us, while at the same time expecting Christ to forgive us of all our sins against Him for a lifetime, cannot be done. It is, therefore, a serious thing to hear Him say: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (6:15).
The Lord gives an illustration of a servant who owed ten thousand talents (meaning an infinite number) to his King. The amount was impossible to repay even in a lifetime. The servant therefore fell down, and worshiped him, saying, lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him only a hundred pence, about 3 months wages, mere pennies when compared to 10,000 talents, but he . . . took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay you all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison. . . . When his lord was made aware of what took place, he was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses (18:24-35). Jesus made it clear that true salvation consists not only of being reconciled with God but in our becoming reconciled with our fellowman.
God has set certain absolutes, certain rules to govern our behavior. We may not like the absolutes of God but we cannot break them without suffering the consequences. There are no exceptions. Jesus said: He that is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathers not with Me scatters (Luke 11:23). He also said: No servant can serve two masters (16:13).
If the forgiving love of God does not humble us, it hardens us. But, when the love of God controls our hearts, we find it much easier to forgive others and not to "demand our rights," hold grudges, nor "exact our dues." Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
The law of unlimited forgiveness is one of the essential absolutes of God's Kingdom. His forgiveness alone makes it possible for us to be pardoned from all our sins. Consequently, it is essential that we express the same unqualified, forgiving love toward our fellowmen. It is not an option, but our Lord's command to pray: Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12).
Word Studies: 18:6 offend means cause to sin; 19:14 suffer means to permit; 20:3 third hour means 9 a.m.; 20:11 goodman means a male head of a household, it does not refer to a man that is good; 20:15 Is thine eye evil? means Are you begrudging, jealous, or envious?; 20:26 minister means servant.
For Matthew 18:16: See Deut. 19:15. Matt. 19:4: See Gen. 1:27; 5:2. Matt. 19:5: See Gen. 2:24. Matt. 19:7: See Deut. 24:1-4. Matt. 19:18: See Ex. 20:13-16; Deut. 5:17-20. Matt. 19:19: See Ex. 20:12; Lev. 19:18; Deut. 5:16.
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Memory Verse for the Week: Ephesians 5:21